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Livin’ la Vida Local


If I have to read about one more NYC’er living off the land, I will hurl up locally sourced bile. I wish that I could care about all this stuff (I did make it about 80% of the way through The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I don’t see Animal, Vegetable, Miracle in my future) but I can’t. And being deep into my freezer scavenger project, you know I’m not living la vida local.

The New Yorker usually scares me but I was bored enough in the airport last weekend to pick up the annual food issue (and then I was still bored). I felt like a douche brandishing some “my state is better than yours” periodical badge even though obvs New Yorker readers don’t all reside in New York.

Adam Gopnik had the requisite urban locavore article, complete with precocious quips from his author’s children. Lucky for you, “New York Local: Eating the fruits of the five boroughs” is one of the few articles freely available online.

Today I was treated to the New York version of this hot earthy trend, except Manny Howard isn’t so much sourcing as doing it himself. Good for him.

There are universals in these tales. Up-for-anything male narrators, an exasperated yet understanding wife, and if at all possible small children. (I know I’ll invoke foodie wrath but I’ve never found Calvin Trillin [as well a currently high profile, self-promoting, accurately monikered blogger that shall remain nameless—what am I? Regina Schrambling?!] as hilarious as others do [plus he stole my fantasy/idea of creating a hawker center in NYC for his New Yorker piece on Singapore. He’d put his on the Hudson River while I think the waterfront along Red Hook or Sunset Park would be better suited but I suspect both suggestions are selfishly based upon proximity to the idea generator’s home]. It’s the foiblesome guy coupled with straight-man wife that fails to grab me, kind of the Larry David wife as comedic foil M.O. except that I do like Curb Your Enthusiasm. Maybe I’m more disconcerted by so much female food writing centering around nostalgia, family and recipe-driven life lessons.)

Oh, and despite never having written for The New Yorker, as his bio points out, I'd also like to add "Alternadad" Neal Pollack to the mix. Just because.

At least the New York writer lives in Kensington and not classic brownstone Brooklyn, making me sick farming in his quaint $2 mil home. In fact, it looks like he paid $830,000  for the little eight-bedroom house in 2003. Or rather his wife did, as the title appears to be in her name, which is completely unsurprising. Someone’s got to subsidize a freelance writing career in NYC.

Ok, I wasn’t going to actually read the article, but you can’t get mildly cranky over a cover a magazine without at least skimming the text. Ok, it’s actually kind of creepy. There’s a lot of accidental animal death, so I guess you could call it the story of a Brooklyn family of bunny and duck killers. Dark comedy or not, god invokes his wrath on the city slicker by sending a rare, inexplicable tornado to destroy his fecund patch of land. Now, it all makes sense. We have Manny to blame for the freak weather incident last month.

If I have to agree with one sentiment, it’s the final sentences:

“It wasn’t just a matter of buying regionally, or seasonally, or organically—the important thing was to consume responsibly. ‘I’ll never be as wasteful,’ she said. ‘We throw away more food than we eat.’”

That’s a lesson I don’t need to learn from growing my own food, and it’s exactly why I have to eat all the crap stored in my freezers. There’ll be no waste (or bunny or duck maiming) in this household.

*Hilarious non-New Yorker cartoon lifted from CartoonStock. I wish I knew who Dave was.

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  1. Who is your favorite food writer?

    September 13, 2007
  2. Foo Bar #

    You suck. A lot.

    September 14, 2007
  3. Huh? I’m sure there are countless reasons why I suck but I’m not clear how wishing food writing was funnier or finding urban locavorism not to my liking to be suck-making.

    September 14, 2007
  4. What really boggled my mind after reading Manny’s article is that he spent what- $11,000 dollars on his little experiment? I’m pretty sure NY Mag doesn’t pay its freelancers anywhere near that much to cover those kind of expenses. Even if he was using his (or his wife’s) dough-$11,000 for one month’s worth of food for ONE person???

    September 14, 2007
  5. Debbie: Somehow I’d blocked out all the financial nonsense, but yeah, I don’t think it’s easy to justify $11,000 for one month of food even in the name of journalism-entertainment. I would be surprised if he was able to expense that much, as well.

    September 17, 2007
  6. Krista, just ignore Foo Bar’s negativity. There’s a lot of unprovoked negativity in the blogosphere. But what I really wanted to say is that I paid merely a couple of bucks for some flower seed packets in an experiment I didn’t even know I was conducting. Turns out the shasta daisy and black-eyed susan seeds I bought at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and planted in my Kensington building’s front yard grew up to be food for a West Indian family in my neighborhood! I’ve blogged about it, of course–check out my “Crazy Daisy” post.

    September 18, 2007

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